Lenin – #4 Worst Russian Ruler



Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (episodes 70-72), born on April 22, 1870 is, in my opinion the number four worst ruler in Russian history. The founder of the Soviet Union, Lenin started Russia on a path that would lead to the deaths of tens of millions of people. While his toppling of the corrupt Tsarist regime, his ruthlessness and his putting Joseph Stalin in a position of power that would lead to terrible consequences, places him on this list.

Born in Simbirsk, as Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov to a wealthy middle class family, he became disenchanted with the Tsarist regime early on. His radicalism became more fervent after his brother Sasha was executed during the reign of Tsar Alexander III. Lenin began to read more and more works of leftist writers like Karl Marx. The works that had the most influence on him were Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s novel What is to be Done? and of course Marx’s Das Kapital.

In 1894, he met the love of his life, fellow radical, Nadezhda “Nadya” Krupskaya. Lenin was introduced to other leftists who he debated with as to the methods of overthrowing the Tsarist regime. Some wanted to assassinate the Tsar, others, like Vladimir, called for patience, insisting on waiting for the right moment.

That moment happened in 1917 when Tsar Nicholas II abdicated the throne. Still the time was not right as the Provisional Government stepped into the void. Biding his time, Lenin returned from self-imposed exile in Finland to lead the Bolshevik’s to overthrow the government in November. Consolidating his position, he ordered the murder of anyone with ties to the old Tsarist regime. He approved the execution of the entire family of former Tsar Nicholas II.

The ensuing Civil War cost hundreds of thousands of lives due to the fighting and the ensuing period of famine. Lenin continued along the path of ruthlessly suppressing any dissent though the newly formed secret police, the Cheka. At the time, he was debating who to hand the power to after he died. The choice was either Leon Trotsky or Joseph Stalin. He unfortunately had place Stalin into positions that ultimately led to Joseph’s taking control after Lenin’s death in January of 1924.

Lenin’s brutality and his misguided vision wrapped in his ideal of Marxism-Leninism led to great suffering in Russia. It is for these reasons I place him as one of the worst leaders in Russian history.

About Mark Schauss

Hi, I'm Mark Schauss and I an internationally known lecturer on environmental and nutritional health issues having spoken in North America, Asia, South America, Europe and soon in Australia. I also have a deep interest in history, especially Russian history because of my heritage through my mother's side of the family. Another large influence on my love of Russian History is my college professor the late Dr. Paul Avrich. His classes were always full and his passion for history was amazing. I wish he could have found out about my podcast before he passed away.

7 Responses to Lenin – #4 Worst Russian Ruler

  1. Mark Adams March 31, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    I think you may be being a little too hard on Lenin, though only a little. When he had the impression that Stalin was not fit for the top job, he tried to have him removed as secretary, but Stalin had already replaced Lenin’s followers with follower’s of his own. Also, Lenin urged Trotsky to challenge, but to no avail and Lenin did improve living conditions to a degree.

  2. Pat H April 1, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    I think the opposite of Mark A, I don’t think you’re being hard enough on Stalin.

    Stalin came into power by operating to overthrow a legitimate democratically elected government, which it was itself a leftist government. Once in power, he operated to rapidly eliminate other leftist extremists. His government was marked by inefficiency and brutality and set inefficiency, repression and brutality a the three legged stool of Soviet government. Russia still struggles today to overcome the impact of Lenin’s policies and actions.

    Would that Kerensky have been strong enough to effectively oppose him.
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  3. Pat H April 1, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    Oops, I meant I don’t think you are being hard enough on Lenin, not Stalin.

    Dealing with an impacted wisdom tooth this morning and operating a little slowly.
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  4. Mark Adams April 1, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    Fair enough, but surely Trotsky is also to blame for the rise of Stalin, like they say, evil triumphs when good men do nothing, or something like that.

  5. Pat H April 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    I wouldn’t give Trotsky much of a pass either. Indeed, I don’t know that Stalin’s later objections to some of Trotsky’s concepts on spreading the Revolution weren’t well founded, although his methods of suppressing them were inexcusable.

    Having said that, the whole group of Bolsheviks in power had blood on their hands, and they all help share in the blame for Stalin.
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  6. Mark Adams April 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    Of course international revolution was part of Marxist theory, but Lenin had also strayed when necessary, and although being able to think outside of the system wasn’t a bad thing in itself, you’re absolutely right that Stalin’s actions were inexcusable and I can’t help but feel that it’s following this example that has caused countries such as North Korea to be shut off from the world and suffer as a result of it.

  7. Mark Adams January 11, 2015 at 12:56 am #

    Having heard the episode on Trotsky I have decided he wasn’t as good as I thought he was. I guess people tend to think of him positively because he was an alternative to Stalin. This begs the question of whether Trotsky would have been as bad a ruler, better or if the anti-Semitic attitude in Russia would have made it impossible to maintain power.

    Both Trotsky and Lenin were traitors to their own country, though. Lenin was supposed to be for the working class, yet he wanted the Russian Army, which would have been made up mostly of the working class (I don’t know how it works but the wealthy always manage to get out of military service), to be defeated, for the soldiers to be either killed or imprisoned and tortured in prisoner of war camps, and once the Germans reached Russia, for the women captured to be kept in the joy division.

    It’s interesting it was stated in the podcast that Trotsky compared the Russian Revolution to the French Revolution, as he had said about ‘the machine’ and ‘automaton’, trying to dehumanise the monarchy and thereby justify killing them.

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